Sophie Farrell’s review published on Letterboxd:
The Talk of the Town is a rather strange film. It is one part screwball comedy, one part Capra-esque message film. The Talk of the Town is a great example of classic Hollywood escapism where the charm of the cast and it's wit make up for an increasingly contrived plot. I enjoyed The Talk of The Town but not as much as I was hoping I would.
The film follows mill worker and political activist Leopold Dilg who is accused of burning down a mill and causing the death of a foreman in the fire. In the middle of his trial, Dilg escapes from prison and seeks shelter in a house owned by an old schoolfriend, Nora Shelley. However, Nora has also rented the house for the summer to distinguished law professor Michael Lightcap. As a result, Nora has to stop Lightcap from realising who Dilg is as well as keeping Dilg on the straight and narrow. Both men also become rivals for Nora's affection. The Talk of the Town has a strong plot with plenty of charm and wit. The comedy works well for the most part and the characters are really likable. The film also some interesting political questions. Lightcap represents the dispassionate eyes of the law while Dilg argues that such a thought is far too idealistic, especially considering the way justice if often dished out. The film does get a little too heavy handed with it's message. There are also several shifts from light hearted whimsy to serious political drama. Some of these shifts do feel quite uneven at times. I do feel that at almost two hours long, the film does feel quite dragged out.
The cast for The Talk of the Town is really great and easily one of the film's main highlights. Cary Grant is as charming as ever. While being witty and funny, I do like that we get to see a darker edge to Grant in this film. Ronald Colman also gives a really strong performance and gets plenty of great scenes. Both Grant and Colman are given equal chance to be utterly charming and shine. Jean Arthur is absolutely delightful in her role and gives quite possibly the best performance in the film. She more than keeps up with Grant and Colman, delivering her lines so naturally and just being completely delightful. Every time she appears on screen is wonderful. The Talk of the Town is directed by George Stevens who does a great job. His craftsmanship never falters and keeps the film moving well, even if it is a little too long. He stages the comedy really well and gives the film an overall sophisticated feel which is nice.
Overall, The Talk of the Town is a really good film and completely enjoyable. Despite the fact that it is too long and it's tone is uneven, The Talk of the Town still manages to raise some interesting points and deliver some great comedy. The cast are all on fine form and the direction from Stevens is really strong. The Talk of the Town is classy and sophisticated fun. While I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped I would, I still had a good time with this film as it is a good, fun way to waste an afternoon. Worth checking out!